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A Shared Belief: Washington Voters Overwhelmingly Support STEM in Schools

Zillah High School students tend plants in the school's onsite greenhouse. Photo Credit: Danny Gross

According to the statewide survey commissioned by nonprofit Washington STEM and executed by research consultancy Strategies 360, 94% of Washington voters believe every child should have access to a high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math education.

Furthermore, 83% of respondents feel that proving high-quality STEM education is a necessary part of the state’s obligation to provide a basic education.

Recognizing The Power to Transform

For some respondents this conviction is intuitive, but a surprising majority understand the uniquely transformative power a quality STEM education can have. 88% of those surveyed agree that children growing up in poverty have a better chance of breaking the cycle of poverty if they’re provided with a strong STEM education.

Notably this belief exists despite the fact that only half (52%) of respondents were aware of the STEM skills gap hampering Washington’s economy: statewide there are 45,000 unfilled STEM jobs because applicants don’t have the required skills and although Washington is the fourth most popular state for technology-based corporations, it is 46th for participation in science and engineering graduate programs.

Perhaps without being consciously aware of the details, voters recognize that STEM skills are increasingly in demand and sense how these opportunities might empower underprivileged kids to find success. 83% of respondents believe that ensuring all students have equal access to quality STEM education, regardless of factors like gender, race, income or location, should be a top priority.

Recognizing The Challenge Before Us

Overall voters are somewhat underwhelmed with the caliber of existing STEM education in Washington, with only 42% saying that schools offer a high quality STEM education and 29% declaring flat-out that they do not.

When identifying top priorities, 71% support expanding career-connected learning opportunities, nearly two thirds support increasing the number of schools offering computer science classes, and 75% support expanding middle and high school technical education programs.

Other items noted as priorities for over half of respondents include increasing teacher pay, increasing resources devoted to schools with high rates of student poverty, and investing state capital to renovate, improve and build STEM classrooms and equipment.

What’s Next?

Governor Jay Inslee’s office has included funding for public-private partnerships in career connected learning and computer science in his proposed 2017 budget. If you agree that STEM education is a crucial part of preparing Washington’s youth for career success and growing our regional economy, let your representatives know that you support this part of the proposal.

To learn more about the transformative power of STEM education, visit http://www.washingtonstem.org/.

CenturyLink is a global communications hosting, cloud and IT services company committed to strengthening and improving the communities it serves. CenturyLink focuses its philanthropic and volunteer efforts on K-12 education programs that support technology-focused initiatives. Learn more about CenturyLink.

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